Who Taught You To Pray?

2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: January 14, 2024

Who taught you to pray?

I remember watching my grandmother sitting with a rosary in her hands. There were certain teachers in my Catholic schools who taught basics of prayers. In high school and university I had some different experiences where I deepened my prayer life. I had some priests and spiritual directors who taught me different methods of prayer. There are some good spiritual writers that I have read that taught me more about prayer.

There is a difference between learning prayers and learning to pray. Learning prayers is important at the beginning, but real prayer is mostly about listening and paying attention.

We saw in our first reading the story of the young boy Samuel. It is really a story of him learning to pray. He is hearing a voice calling his name, at first he does not understand. He goes to the old, wise man Eli and asks him what he wants. After a few times Eli realizes what is happening and he tells Samuel that next time he should simply say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” This is such a great and simple prayer.

If you asked me to help in your prayer, the first thing I might encourage you to do is begin each day in silence and in your heart speak this prayer. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then as you go through your day, truly listen to what God is saying to you. Hear the voice of God in the events, relationships, struggles, good and bad moments of life.

When you go to visit a friend or someone in your family, in your heart pray, “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Then be ready to notice what God is saying to you in that encounter.

In today’s Gospel, a few disciples begin to follow Jesus and ask about him. Jesus invited them, “Come and See.” This is prayer, to answer the invitation of Jesus, “Come and see.” Everywhere you go in your life, listen for the voice of Jesus, pay attention to God speaking to you in each encounter, in each experience of your life.

I saw a tweet recently by a Cardinal quoting from the famous Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. “If your daily life seems poor to you, don’t blame it. Instead blame yourselves for not being enough poets to discover all of its riches. For with the Creator, nothing is poor.”

Like Samuel, we need to learn to pray. It is more than just learning prayers. We need to learn to listen and pay attention to God speaking to our hearts, in every moment and each situation of our life. We need to hear Jesus inviting us to be with him, “Come and see.”

That simple prayer of Samuel is one that is helpful to each one of us. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Begin each day, begin each experience, with that spirit, ready to listen to God speaking to your heart.

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